Bill and Melinda Gates release an annual letter, updating the public about their activities.

In this post, Peter Greene reviews their latest annual report and is struck by how blind they are to their mistakes. 

He notices two constant features:

1) He is almost always wrong.

2) He never learns anything.

“If we look at last fall’s speech (both the pre-speech PR and the actual edited-down version he delivered), we can see that Gates knows he’s supposed to be learning things, that a shift in direction and emphasis needs to look like a pivot based on a learning curve, and not just flailing off blindly in another direction because the previous flails didn’t turn out like you hoped (against all evidence and advice) they would.

“What looks on the surface like an admission of failure turns out to be an assignment of blame. Small schools, teacher evaluation, merit pay, and the ever-unloved Common Core have all been a bust, and yet somehow, their failure is never the result of a flawed design, a bad concept, or being flat-out wrong about the whole picture. What Gates invariably announces he’s “learned” is that he was basically correct, but he underestimated just how unready people were to welcome his rightness, and he needs to tweak a few features.

“So Tough Question #2 was “What do you have to show for the billions you’ve spent on U.S. education?” And his short answer is “A lot, but not as much as either of us would like.”

“This is classic Gates. “The Zune was a huge success, but we needed to tweak the matter of customers not wanting to buy them.” “Mrs. Lincoln thought the play was a triumph, but we might need to tweak that last part a bit.”